Monday, April 27, 2015

Welcome to New England!

Hey there lovely people! So, the past week has been insane! I can't even begin to explain how much I miss the simplicity of home life, but I know that I'm needed here right now and that serving a mission is the best thing for me to be doing right now.

Well, on to the "exciting" part.

Sunday, April 19:
Well, I got released as STL (Sister Training Leader) and was a "normal" missionary for the rest of the day. Exciting stuff I guess.

Wow, alright, running out of time really quickly here.

I had to say goodbye to everyone and was a hot mess! Lots of tears. Surprising? Shouldn't be haha!

Monday, April 20:
Reported to the Travel Office at 3:30AM. Torture. We got on the bus and they said our flight was delayed and we wouldn't have to report until 8:30AM.

I definitely surprised a good number of people. Very awkward to say hello when I had just said goodbye. Life of a missionary though, right?

Reported back to the travel office. Took a bus and two trains to the airport. 2 hour trip. Told us we weren't flying out until the next morning. Two more trains and another bus back to the MTC. Awkward hello again. Such a blessing to be able to spend my last day with Sister Aston though! She's the greatest!

Tuesday, April 21:
Said a real goodbye to Sister Aston. Super sad morning. 

Finally got to the airport and, you guessed it, more complications. After who knows how long, I was finally set and ended up flying solo to New Hampshire! Off I went!

I arrived in Manchester, New Hampshire at about 9:30PM and went to the mission home. The rest of the group didn't get there until 11:30PM. Yay for mix-ups I suppose!

Wednesday, April 22:
Transfer meeting. First day in the field!

Companion: Sister Davis from Utah. Very nice! We're serving in Skowhegan, Maine! That's right, I'm serving in Maine! Unfortunately, there are no Portuguese speakers...anywhere. I mean, anywhere. No visa waiter, no natives. Nothing. Let's hope that next transfer there's someone here...

Thursday, April 23:
We did service at a soup kitchen. That was pretty cool. Other than that, not much really happened. It was a slow day for missionary work.

Friday, April 24:
Happy Birthday Dad!

I survived weekly planning. That alone was enough of a miracle to write pages home about haha!

Honestly, we were inside most of the day for planning, so not much happened Friday either.

Saturday, April 25:
Finally met our progressing investigator! The lesson went so well and it was a testament to me of how the Holy Ghost really is the true teacher! I can share all the scriptures I want and tell as many personal experiences as I want, but unless the Spirit is there, nothing will happen. It was an amazing experience!

We also went tracting that evening and I GAVE MY FIRST COPY OF THE BOOK OF MORMON! Happy day! We knocked on a woman's door and she actually had a lot of questions so I gave her a Book of Mormon, my companion gave her pamphlets to look over and yeah! It was awesome!

Sunday, April 26:
We had a Regional Broadcast, so that was awesome! It was a broadcast from Salt Lake and the General Authorities talked a lot about families. I know I'm on a mission, but I've been thinking a lot about families lately and it was neat that families were the focus.

We also had lunch with the bishop and that was fun. Their kids remind me so much of my siblings; I loved it!

Another thing, we tracted into a less-active member by accident and it was awesome! She said she'd definitely be open to having us come back, so we're going to this week!

Today, and this week in general, has been so crazy and I'm so glad that I've made it through a week in the field. I miss my friends from the MTC, I miss my friends back home, and I miss my family so much, but the Lord needs me in Maine right now, and eventually in Brazil. I'm so excited to see what's in store for me over the next 16 months!

I love you all so much! I promise my email next week won't be as jumbled!

Amo Sempre,
Sister McEldowney
From the keeper of this blog - 

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are known to have a language all their own when it comes to life in the gospel. I've clarified a couple below and included links to the references. 

RE: Saturday, April 25
You might wonder, "What is tracting?" Having served a mission where tracting was the primary means of finding people to teach I would call it the worst form of torture known to man. I did, however, find you a better definition -

"Door-to-door contacting is commonly called "tracting" because missionaries in the past often left printed tracts with people as they called on them. As the number and influence of Church members have grown, missionaries have come increasingly to rely on referrals from members to find people to teach. In the latter half of the twentieth century, missionaries have had the benefit of standardized lessons, usually referred to as missionary discussions, to assist them in teaching the gospel."

RE: Sunday, April 26
Again you might wonder, "What is a less-active?" The Savior shared a parable of the lost sheep, the one who had wandered from the ninety and nine. Of that sheep the scriptures record in Luke 15:4-7 -

"4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance."

Members of the church, latter-day saints, take this mandate very seriously. People no longer participate fully in the church for a myriad of reasons, but they are not forgotten even if they want to be. For the sake of identifying and therefore finding them, they become known as the less-active. We as members and particularly as full-time missionaries are taught and organized to find them, love them, and pray that they will find happiness in church activity once again; being brought back to the fold. It is a beautiful experience to be a part of that process, thus, Kayla's excitement at meeting a less-active member while tracting.

The church produced a video about this very principle that is very good. The link is below - 

Just a thought -
It occurred to me with Kayla's, hopefully temporary, change in assignment that you might wonder how missionaries are assigned. At our last General Conference (about 2 weeks ago) they reported that there are currently 85,147 full-time missionaries serving in 406 missions worldwide. That number includes young men and women Kayla's age as well as senior couples or singles who are retired and desire to serve. In that same conference, Elder M. Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, offered insight into the assignment process. I thought I'd include it here just in case you're interested - 

In the early days of the Church, missionaries were interviewed by a General Authority before they went on their missions. These days you are interviewed to serve as missionaries by your bishops and stake presidents, and most of you will go through your entire lives without being interviewed by a General Authority. That is simply a reflection of the reality in a worldwide church of more than 15 million members. I know I speak for my brethren when I tell you that we wish it were possible for us to know all of you personally and to be able to tell you that we love you and that we support you.

Fortunately the Lord has provided ways for us to reach out to you. For example, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve assigns every missionary to his or her mission. Although this is done without a traditional face-to-face interview, technology and revelation combine to provide an experience that is remarkably intimate and personal. Let me tell you how this happens.

Your photograph comes up on a computer screen, together with key information provided by your bishop and stake president. When your picture appears, we look into your eyes and review your answers to the missionary recommendation questions. For that brief moment, it seems as if you are present and responding to us directly. As we look at your photograph, we trust that you have cleared in every way the “raised bar” required today to be a faithful, successful missionary. Then, by the power of the Spirit of the Lord and under the direction of President Thomas S. Monson, we assign you to one of the Church’s 406 worldwide missions.

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